14th July, 2016
We were really excited to see that this week, the UK Restaurant Awards named The Sportsman in Whitstable, Kent the Best Restaurant in the UK. Our excitement was not only because we think it's well deserved and we love the story of this special eatery, but also because anyone who cycles one of our Kent bicycle holidays rides directly past its front door! Reservations are required months in advance, but if you're organised and book your holidays in good time, then there's no reason that you couldn't be stopping off en route to enjoy some seriously good food on your cycling jolly around the Garden of England.
With typical English dry wit, The Sportsman's Twitter page describes the restaurant as 'a grotty seaside pub'. It's located next to a run-down caravan site, in a building that used to be a hotel. The owner and head chef Stephen Harris is himself not your average pretentious Michelin starred chef - he used to work in the City, is self-taught, and once played in a punk band with his younger brother. It was this same brother's untimely death by drowning in 1994 that inspired Stephen to leave his job and pursue a career as a chef and restaurateur. He purchased The Sportsman, a hotel he used to play next to as a child, in 1999 and did it up over a week with a group of friends on a budget of £30,000. By 2008, the word was out about the quality of the food and Michelin awarded him a star.
It's all about local produce at The Sportsman, with most of the meat and vegetables coming from Kent, and the fish and seafood from the local fishermen. The offering changes daily, with both a la carte and tasting menu options. We particularly loved the home-made bread and the Whitstable oysters, which are served inventively: you can choose between poached oysters with rhubarb and seaweed, oysters with pickled cucumber and avruga caviar or rock oysters with hot chorizo!
Book any one of our Kent cycling holidays and experience The Sportsman for yourself - it's well worth the trip!